OK Everyone -- another hour has slipped through out fingers -- I'm going to race off to wroite some more articles -- I hope to see you all again next week -- until then, I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL weekend!!!
Max - Yes. I saw that blog. I do love my PIC MCUs, but they drive me nuts too. There are so many variations, that I'm sure could be consolidated down to about a thrid. And many, many of them are almost exactly the same as some other, but close enough to require far mor research than switching from one product line menber to another should take.
@Duane: Max - I was brining up a small board based on a varient if PIC16F MCU that I hadn't used before....
On the one hand I love Microchip -- their PICs have beet really useful -- did you see my What's the Most Popular MCU of All Time? blog? I think the PIC16F family have sold more than 7 billion units (eeek).
Having said this, their 8-bit architecture is "esoteric" to say the least -- you can program them in C, but the architecture is rooted in the past and is not ideal for the task. By comparison, the 8-bit Atmel AVR architecture (as used in the Arduino Uno, for example) was designed from the ground up to be able to efficiently run C (by which I menn, to allow C cpompilers to efficiently map th ecode onto the architecture)
Max - I was brining up a small board based on a varient if PIC16F MCU that I hadn't used before. It's real close to a bunch of others that I've used, but it still took me more than an hour to get the right combination of settings between the conficuration bits, clock settings and - yes, even basic port configuration - before I got the chip to do anything. It's nuts. The Arduino take care of all of that for you.
@Caleb: I have several flavors. The selling point is ease of use.
I've invariably got projects on the go that benefit from a microcontroller -- I've bounced around all over the place (the most recent was a PICAXE programmed in BASIC) -- but (for reasons you will see in my blog later today) I now need to learn the Arduino...
Garcia - One of the nice things about the Arduino, education wise, is that it's close to the hardware, but a lot of the messy details are handled. You don't have to worry about getting tripped up by configuration bits or the idiosyncracies of I2C, etc. You can get right to the programming and then later explore some of those painful environmental issues.
@Max: it's funny, i have gone through teh same experince for some time avoiding to be controled by Stev Jobs's invention and his iTune, and about to give that up, for similar reasons, everyone else has it and they are all happy campers:)
I would really like to see some better tools and/or documentation on getting direct access to the hardware with the SBCs through the OS and higher level applications. Tools and documentation are out there, but not easy to use or find in my experience
@Caleb: that's a great experince/view to have (having tried both iPad 7 Nexus), they are almost like Windows and Linux, teh android being open is offering lots of more oppurtunity but still you have more current apps for iPad, I think the shoudl converge atsome point.
@Susan: I'm not an Arduino user, but I've used the under-the-hood AVR microcontroller in quite a bunch of projects. I 'm not sure about using the Arduino with educational purposes, as it has been thought to be programmed using an extra layer of software abstraction -- instead of using the C commands for accessing the AVR resources, you have the Arduino API.
Raspberry, BeagleBone, etc. are the ideal tool for learning OS, both Linux and Android. The students can play with the whole filesystem and it they blow it away, the problem can be fixed by just replacing the storage SD.
@max, I feel you on the apps. Google's play store has helped tremendously, but It still isn't quite the same. The selection is smaller than itunes and overal app quality is lower due to fragmentation of hardware.
@EE,etc.: As one example of the use of the iPad, about a year ago I build a ukulele (don't ask :-)
The first thing you want to do when you have a ukuleke is tune it ... I was thinking about going to the local music store to buy an electronic tuner, but then I thought "I wonder if they have an app for that?" THEY DO!!!
I have both an ipad and the Nexus7. the ipad has more polish for sure in both software and hardware. The cost is considerably different though, and the bar for entry into development is lower with android.
@EE,etc.: I am also planning to break years of apple-resistance and buy teh ipad next week:)
I don't think you will regret it. When the iPad first came out, I looked around all the computers in my office and at home and said "Nah -- don't need it."
Sometime later I purchased a small "netpad" computer to sit on the couch at home to be used to look things up -- what a PAIN that was -- it took forever to boot up -- I wish I'd never set eyes on it.
In fact it wasn't until the iPad2 came out that I went to a conference and saw that just about everyone I knew had one and were using them to take notes and send emails (FYI -- When you get one, download the "Notes Plus" application -- it's AMAZING!!!"
@EE,etc: I think 'positioning' is a hard challenge for the <$100 tablets -as you mentioned every one goes for the obvious opportunuties; fresh approaches are needed to create new ones for these. If for eg, you include 3G/4G radios in them, you will corner a good size of the market for low end / prepaid plans in dev economies where texting still is a major traffic %%.
@Duane and @Garcia-Lasheras: good points about what board to use teach certain lessons. If you were developing a lesson plan, you'd start with Arduino first and then teach OS on the Pi? Any other recommendations for boards to use in education?
@Duane: "The Arduino, without an OS, is far easier to use, and in my opinion, a much better educational tool."
Arduino is a better educational tool for hardware, I agree... but the point is that the Raspberry is GREAT for Operating System education: this project is more related with OPEN SOFTWARE than with OPEN HARDWARE.
@EE,etc.: I am not a pro-apple person as i don't think apple products are really designed for Engineers...
Generally speaking I agree with this -- there are some interesting ways in which the iPad can be used as an oscilloscope or a logic analyzer or ... and there are some interesting applications ... but generally speaking I regard the iPad as a content consuming/display devuce rather than a content generation device.
Having said this, I always have my iPad with me at home for it's ability to wander aroudn with me and th efact that it's "instant on" -- I'm constantly using it to check up on fact and things -- I'm going to be using it to play an audio book while I'm on a road trip tomorrow ... and I love having access to all of the iPad apps
The question is, what are you defining as a SBC? Most of them seem to be ARM based. Does a Cortex M3 based board count as an SBC? Is an SBC only a general purpose computer? Does it need to run an RTOS? There is even an RTOS that runs on an 8051 now, so would an 8051 based board be considered and SBC?
I've just done a little work trying to get to the hardware through a Raspberri Pi or Beaglebone OS. It's possible, but not easy. Funny thing is, though, that I used to have to work through an OS way back in the Apple II and DOS days. It can be quite the struggle.
The Arduino, without an OS, is far easier to use, and in my opinion, a much better educational tool.
I wouldn't count the arduino as an SBC, or at least not in the same class as the Beaglebone, Raspberry Pi and such. The Arduino is significantly easier to use, but it doesn't have an OS and isn't as capable.
To be honest -- SBCs that run at the Linux level with stuff like HDMI and things are a bit outside my comfort zone. I'm happier creating applications that run on the "bare metal" -- reading input pins and "twiddling" output pins...
@@EE,etc: I think the performance in graphics will improve as volume increases in the <$100 tablets; I still don't see these proliferating in dev economies at the introductory level, so I assume there is a play for these, a good one at that.
If only you coudl get a sub-$100 tablet with access to the iTunes stors and to all of Apple's app store contents... without that, I can't see myself ever moving away from my *precious* (sorry, my iPad)
Max, I love the Parallela concept but I've a doubt about it... At first I thought that it could be used as a Zynq dev-kit, but now I'm becoming aware that the Zynq is only a necessary part for linking with the Epiphany resources... am I right???